The Champions League provided us with yet another round of scintillating football. Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund played out one of the best games of the week, while BATE Borisov, Shakhtar Donetsk and Celtic came away with major upsets. TheHardTackle brings to you the Champions League team of the week for round two.
Joe Hart (Manchester City): There was only one reason for Borussia Dortmund leaving the City of Manchester Stadium with just one point and that was Joe Hart. The 25-year-old made some mind boggling saves to deny the ever threatening Dortmund attack. He constantly thwarted Mario Götze’s strikes, twice pushing them on to the woodwork thus ensuring that his side kept Dortmund at bay. Unfortunately, some poor work in midfield saw Dortmund take the lead and come within inches of winning the game. But if not for Hart, this game could have been finished in the first forty five.
Maicon (FC Porto): Going up against an in form PSG side was never going to be an easy task for Porto, but they came out of the Estadio do Dragao with their heads held up high and their goal untouched. The key man in holding of this venomous PSG attack was center back Maicon, who made an impressive three tackles and eight clearances. The highly talented defender also provided some quality long balls from the back, proving to be a fairly decent attacking outlet.
Vinícius (Braga): The Portuguese side went into a difficult fixture in Turkey on the back of a pathetic showing against CFR Cluj in their first group stage match. At the packed Turk Telekom Arena, Braga put on a commendable defensive display to keep a hungry Galatasaray side from scoring. And at the center of this solid unit was Brazilian center back, Vinícius. The big defender made a total of two tackles, three interceptions and eleven clearances. A promising performance for Jose Peseiro and the Braga faithful.
David Luiz (Chelsea): Ironically, this defense is completed with yet another Brazilian. Who knew that such a day would ever come. Unlike Maicon and Vinícius, David Luiz was asked to do very little defensively. The marauding center back was rarely ever called upon and made just six clearances all game. So why is his name here? Well, a thunderous freekick in the 79th minute was more than enough to impress and ensure that he booked his place in the team of the week.
Eliseu (Malaga): The versatile midfielder was probably the best player this week. Eliseu put on a memorable show for the Belgian fans as he took the game away with two sensational strikes. He opened the scoring just before the break with an incredible strike on the volley. Eliseu showed great control, technique and sheer power in that strike and pretty much put the game to rest there. As if that wasn’t enough, Eliseu finished off the night with an exquisite lob over the keeper to give Malaga their third goal and the three points.
Edgar Olekhnovich (BATE Borisov): BATE Borisov 3-1 Bayern Munich. Who ever expected that? BATE put on one of their best ever showings to pick up their most memorable win in history and Edgar Olekhnovich was at his hard working best to ensure that this happened. The midfielder was all over the place, throwing himself everywhere and doing all that he could to keep Bayern’s attack on a leash. The 25-year-old Belarusian made four tackles and three interceptions to keep the three points safely locked. If BATE are to continue this magical start, Olekhnovich is going to be of utmost importance to them.
İlkay Gündoğan (Borussia Dortmund): Making a complete mockery of Yaya Toure is an almost impossible task. After that jaw dropping run and assist against Real Madrid in Manchester City’s first group game, Dortmund would have been deeply worried by Toure. Enter İlkay Gündoğan. The Dortmund man ran Toure ragged over the ninety minutes, and the German midfielder can blame Joe Hart for not having his name on the scoresheet.
Willian (Shakhtar Donetsk): Yet another Brazilian! Thankfully, this time he is an attacker. Shakhtar’s midfield put in a top notch performance at the Juventus Stadium and it was Willian who was their chief orchestrator. Working down the left flank, the Brazilian attacker constantly embarrassed Andrea Barzagli with his flamboyant footwork. He was an ever present figure in Shakhtar’s attacks, hitting the post on two occasions and assisting the first goal.
Robin van Persie (Manchester United): The Dutchman’s super form continues. Yet another brace, and this time in Europe’s elite club competition. Van Persie was crucial in United’s comeback against on Tuesday. He opened his account with a cheeky header from a Rooney freekick and sealed the deal with a beautiful finish in the 50th minute. Some might argue that van Persie should have scored a few more against Cluj, but this performance was enough for the Dutch attacker to make the cut.
Lionel Messi (Barcelona): What is any list without this man? At his dazzling best once again, Lionel Messi made the Benfica defense look like that of a school team. Surprisingly, Messi failed to hit the back the net of the net in Portugal but provided two delicious passes for his teammates to help Barcelona pick up their customary three points. As expected Lionel Messi was at the top of all the statistics, including the number of shots taken and number of dribbles.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid): “Oh, did Messi assist two goals? And did Eliseu score two? Well, I can do better.” That was probably what was running through Ronaldo’s head during the Ajax game and he lived up to all the expectation. Highest number of shots taken in this round (a total of nine!), only player to score a hattrick and scored a contender for goal of the week. Ronaldo is surely this week’s top player as he put Ajax’s defense to the sharpest of swords.
Honourable mentions: Christian Abbiati (Milan), Alex Sandro (FC Porto), Weligton (Malaga), Yevhen Khacheridi (Dynamo Kiev), Joao Moutinho (FC Porto), Julian Draxler (Schalke 04), Juan Mata (Chelsea), Mario Götze (Borussia Dortmund), Hulk (Zenit St Petersburg), Emmanuel Emenike (Spartak Moscow)